Titans XXL fought back to beat Soho 3-2 and take top spot of the London Unity League, whilst our 2Brewers side where soundly beaten by London Romans in North London
Titans XXL 3 – 2 Soho FC – report by Stu Forward
Coming off of last week’s disappointing defeat in North London, Titans XXL were keen to bounce back as they returned to Dukes Meadow to face off against Soho FC. Rich Nicholls was back to shore up the defence at centre back, alongside Adam Brown in at right back, and Joe Revens up top.
Looking to settle early nerves, Titans opened play by confidently passing the ball around the pitch in the opening ten, linking play through the middle of the park via Luke Tuffs and Rob Barr’s domineering presence.
However, Titans failed to gel in key positions and became increasingly rattled by Soho’s attacking strides. A repeated lack of tracking back down the wings left gaps in the defence and invited unnecessary pressure. Coupled with some well-weighted lofted balls into the box, this tested the Titans’ defensive line and brought some important interventions from Michael Thurloway at left back to snuff out the goal threat.
Assistant Manager David East’s big mouth proved the 12th man from the sideline as he marshalled play and looked to bring more cohesion to the Titans set up during a testing period. We responded to the Soho attack in kind, but in truth, neither team really produced enough end product to cause trouble for the keepers, with Issac Young strong in goal whenever called upon.
This all changed on the 35 minute mark as some poor defensive work left a man unmarked and free to nod the ball into the net from a corner. Soho were galvanised and took the majority of possession before half-time, wanting the ball more and coming out the better from most chances. Titans went into half-time 1-0 down, but heads were up for the ensuing fightback.
Manager Paul Wheeler changed it up, bringing new energy onto the wings as Titans looked to battle back. Unfortunately these aspirations were dealt a swift blow as a defensive fumble meant that a cross went unchallenged and Soho were able to grab a second out of the keeper’s hands.
Heads were down, but a life-line came as Ollie James-Parr capitalised on a defensive error to run past his man and slot past the keeper with a well-taken shot. The goal gave Titans a second wind as they came back into the game, increasing the tempo and finding an energy which had completely deserted them in the first half.
Chris King battled across the pitch, in spite of his Sink-the-Pink-related injuries, coming close to crafting deft through balls on a number of occasions. It was all change as Wheeler switched to an attacking 3-4-3 set up, taking Nicholls from centre back to centre forward. Within seconds of the switch, James-Parr, Barr and Nicholls bore down on goal, outnumbering the defence and allowing Barr to knock one in and level the scores, putting momentum and belief firmly behind Titans.
Titans continued to press, playing the ball well through the middle, before a cross into the box left Nicholls free to chip the ball over the keeper at close range to find the net and make it 3-2, completing the comeback. Stu Forward nearly sent the touchline into a stunned silence as he ran through on goal and came inches from connecting with a diving header from Nicholls’ searching cross into the box, but it wasn’t to be.
In search of an equaliser in the game’s dying moments, Soho switched to a more attacking formation, but East in at centre back was more than up to the task of snuffing out the threat down the right flank. Titans absorbed pressure and continued to hit on the counter attack as Dan Crampsie ran his heart out to switch defence into attack. Titans reached the final whistle as 3-2 victors, a wholly unlikely outcome just half an hour earlier.
Titans XXL will take confidence from the fightback and the burst of energy that brought about the reversal in fortunes. However, the lessons of the first half should inform the rest of the season as the squad looks to regain that hunger for the ball and battle across the pitch. Next week, Stonewall.
Line up: Young, Thurloway, Nicholls, Miller, Brown, Moloney (C), Barr, Tuffs, Walton, James-Parr, Revens Subs: Crampsie, East, Forward, King
London Romans 6 – 0 Titans 2Brewers – report by Jim Hearson
A wretched five first-half minutes put paid to any hopes of Titans 2 Brewers claiming anything from the trip north to face London Romans.
The game started evenly, with both teams probing, and Titans coming closest to opening the scoring after a long throw was flicked into a dangerous area, but nobody was there to attack it.
It was downhill from there – first, former Titan Frank Atako slotted home from close range, and from the resulting centre, possession was almost immediately surrendered and the ball was passed through to Atako again to double Romans’ lead.
Although Titans didn’t concede from the following centre, it wasn’t long until the hosts had their third, when a header was bundled in from a corner. After some respite, it was another corner that gave Romans a 4-0 half-time lead, with a whipped-in cross deflecting in off a defender.
We had our moments, with Sam Court’s tough tackling, the returning Jasper Morgan’s craft and drive, and Tom Grant’s constant pickpocketing of opposition players to turn defence into attack, but the breakthrough wouldn’t come. Skipper Ed Green did have the ball in the net from a Kev Luke pass, but was flagged offside.
The effort levels on a hot Sunday afternoon continued into the second half, with André Lombard’s feistiness added to the mix, but gaps began to appear as the game got stretched. This allowed the hosts to break forward with pace and while the reorganised defence managed to repel most, Romans were able to make two of their attacks count.
Tom Grant was awarded man of the match for his industry, and all eyes are now turning to next week against Charlton Invicta, where Gaffer Grimsley will be hoping for an altogether better performance from the team.
Line up: Felton, D O’Regan, Hearson, Tilbey, Hope, Grant, Morgan, Court, Luke, Lombard, Green (C) Subs: Grimsley, Corti, Lawrence